Seminar – Little magazines experienced a boom just about the time of Modernism, and have stayed with us since, defining new literary, artistic and political movements throughout the twentieth century. In the little magazine—a typically non-commercial venture (most often operating at a loss), sometimes short-lived, with relatively small circulation, and always open to avant-garde, experimental, or socially rebellious work by emerging writers—we find an intricate panorama of modern literature.
Beginning with the mid-nineteenth century Pre-Raphaelite The Germ, little magazines have served as catalysts and keepers of the flame for arising literary trends (including Symbolism, Imagism, Dada, Objectivism, the Beats, New York School, Language, conceptualism, sudden fiction, etc.) and as open forums for literary debate. Because of their independence from institutional and commercial constraints, little magazines have championed marginalized writers affiliated with a broad spectrum of political and social movements.
We'll be looking at particularly ground-breaking or controversial issues of many historically important magazines, including The Germ, The Dial, Blast, The Egoist, The Little Review, Poetry (Prufrock; the Objectivist issue), The Paris Review, Black Mountain Review, Origin, The Evergreen Review, Angel Hair, Some/Thing, 0 to 9, Dodgems (ed. Eileen Myles), Fiction, This, and more. (We will visit the library to look at originals of some of these rare journals.) We'll also make a foray into the aesthetics promulgated or intentionally muddled by contemporary journals—such as McSweeney's, Noon (ed. Diane Williams), Fence—and we'll read some polemical criticism (both internal and external) surrounding editorial vision and direction. We'll also touch upon the electronic (internet-based) magazine and examine its growing presence in a time of print-culture crisis and the simultaneous explosion of letterpress and digital print media for independent use. The course will culminate in a discussion of editorial procedure and practical concerns of magazine publication through the planning of a collaboratively edited and designed class magazine. For their final projects, students will plan an issue of their own little magazine and write a manifesto or aesthetic statement that would introduce their editorial vision.
See the Writing MFA Program page for all course information and requirements.